The use of surveying in mapping features within the physical landscape. In the state of Michoacan, Mexico, relief, and slope were used to classify the landscape into different landforms such as plains, piedmonts, plateaus, hills, and sierras (Bocco et al. 2001). In the Oregon Coast Range, Roering et al. (2005) were able to distinguish a debris-flow terrain from a deep-seated landslide terrain by means of a topographic index determined by slope and curvature.
The applicability of morphological mapping depends on the scale and resolution of the elevation data and the scale of the features to be investigated. For example, a 1:50000 or 1:100000 topographic map may not be appropriate for studying the surface morphology of glacial moraines and ablation areas, thus the need to do topographic mapping at larger scales (Sharp 1984. Watanabe 1985). Conversely, the study of the continental- to global-scale topographic relief may prove too cumbersome if 1:50000 maps are used.
Computer technology has greatly improved the state of morphological mapping. The practice has been revolutionized by the digitization of elevation data, the increased processing capabilities of computers, and the development of various terrain analysis software. The increasing use of remotely-sensed images jointly with digital elevation data has further enhanced the discipline of morphological mapping (Florinsky 1998).
A plane table survey set-up consists of a drawing platform, a tripod, an alidade, and a device for measuring distances (Gillespie 1868. McCormac 2004). The platform is mounted on the tripod such that the former can be leveled and rotated. Paper for plotting is fixed on top of the platform. The alidade consists of a telescope mounted on a ruler such that a vertical plane contains both the edge of the ruler and the telescope’s line of sight. A vertical arc indicates the inclination of the telescope. With the alidade, a stadia rod can be used to measure distances.